Schwarten plugs case for Rocky

ROBERT Schwarten believes the epicentre of the proposed rail giant, QR National, should be in Rockhampton.

Mr Schwarten yesterday endorsed the move to overhaul the structure of the state’s rail system, which would lead to the creation of QR National, a publicly listed company, with a 99-year-lease over the state’s coal and general freight networks.

He believes it presents a “golden opportunity” for the city.

“Like everyone else, I get tired of QR officials having to jump on planes to go to Brisbane,” Mr Schwarten said.

“It’s my view the lion’s share of workers out of this company should be in Rockhampton.

“I have spoken with the Premier about this and she gave me a favourable hearing.”

While he understood workers’ concerns and respected their right to protest, Mr Schwarten said the move was in their long-term interest.

“As long as coal is coming out of the ground there is no threat to job security,” he said.

“In fact there is the real probability wages will increase from the overhaul and it will create more jobs.”

He said it was his job to ensure workers were looked after in the deal.

Member for Keppel Paul Hoolihan urged workers and union leaders not to jump to conclusions and to look at the detail and expert opinion of what was proposed.

“I’m cautiously optimistic it will work, but I’ll wait to see further analysis,” he said.

“Everyone is saying they will lose things, but they have not seen the final analysis.”

He said he would happily sit down with union reps and workers to discuss concerns after they’d had time to analyse the situation.

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